31/03/2010/3:10 pm, Duncan Town, Ragged Island
We made it to Ragged Island and are anchored in South Side Bay just at the south end. We've met up with Marilyn and Bruce (Reflection) and Linda and Peter (Asylum III) - from Shediac NB!!
We caught a ride to shore with Marilyn and Bruce and have been exploring with expert guidance from Linda and Peter. What a great place. More details to come!!
Things are looking up for the outboard. We're not sure yet about the arrival of the part on the mailboat, but there are folks to fix it when it comes.
31/03/2010/3:06 pm, Raccoon Cay
Because Chris Parker warned of a coming front, we thought it prudent to tuck in behind Buenavista rather than anchor along the long western beach. The waves rolling in there would mean we couldn't row our inflatable dinghy ashore even if the anchorage wasn't too uncomfortable. Both the Explorer chart and Steve Pavlidis' book mentioned that the area between the south-eastern shore of Buenavista and Low Water Harbour Cay is good for a front so that's where we headed. Pavlidis recommends going up as far into the narrow as possible, and since we were the first boat in, we did just that, stopping opposite the needle-less causurina tree on the little beach, and tucked right up close between the two cays. The bottom was a mix of rock and sand, and we had to wait till slack tide for Jim to swim over the anchor for a visual check, but when we backed on it we didn't go anywhere.
The current was really strong on both ebb and flow so although we weren't rocking, we didn't feel comfortable going ashore. At least dishes and glasses and everything that wasn't attached or placed on a nonskid surface didn't go sliding around like the night before! We napped during the afternoon, and I worked on a new basket, and we stepped up our alertness level in preparation for the front that was to pass through about 3 am. Dot's Way anchored south of us, and in the evening we saw the masts of Heart's Desire and Always Saturday (the two boats that had been anchored on the western shore) move along the cay, round the corner and anchor out in the wider part of the bay. It was a "good" front in that, although the wind clocked around and we were exposed to the west for a brief period, wind velocity never exceeded 15 - 18 knots, and we were really well snugged in.
It had been so hot and humid that it was difficult to sleep so we were happy that the passing of the front also brought a freshening of the air.
On Tuesday morning, we started out again on our southward journey toward Duncan Town and hopes of a motor- fix, but decided that we wouldn't make Hog Cay at a suitable tide time, so we made the fortunate decision to tuck into the little bay between Raccoon and Nairn Cays. Once again, the wind and waves made the western anchorage of Raccoon undesirable.
This hidey hole brought us two happy encounters. First of all, Bruce (Zingara) was here. We had met him briefly a couple of times before - in the laundry at Black Point in 2008 and at Vero Beach this trip when he gave Jim a lift back from getting his propane tank filled - but hadn't had a chance to spend any time with him. Bruce came by to say hello, heard about out outboard trouble, and in the best of cruiser tradition, said, "I know a thing or two about motors. Let's have a look!" We hoisted it into the cockpit and he and Jim spent the next couple of hours tearing it apart and discovering the problem. Unfortunately, the fix needed new parts, and that's where the next encounter happened. We had just settled back with icy beers in hand when a fast, open speed boat came around the corner. We exchanged greetings with the three fellows on board (from Duncan Town) and said we were headed in that direction. Bruce asked if they knew anyone there who might be able to fix the outboard, and Phil instantly understood the problem, saying that it was a weakness of the Mercury four strokes. He took the part number, said he'd check on availability and could probably get his sister to put it on the mailboat in Nassau and get it here on Saturday! With phone numbers exchanged, we waved farewell.
Bruce, Jim and I dined on a boilfish dinner (hogfish, potatoes, onions cooked together in a broth with limes and garlic.) It was tasty and the juice was good sopped up with home made bread, but I think I still prefer hogfish panfried. I'll use snapper next time I think, and add some other vegetables. Conversation was wide ranging and happy, and Bruce has been encouraging us to take in the Family Island Regatta in Georgetown. We'll see!
Zingara headed off toward Water Cay and Madcap set out for South Side Bay on Ragged Island on Wednesday morning. Off to the next happy encounters! And perhaps - fingers crossed - a repaired outboard motor!
28/03/2010/3:01 pm, Nurse Cay
At both Water Cay and Flamingo Cays, we have been ooohing and aaahing at the Magnificent Frigate Birds. Magnificent is capitalized because it is part of the name - as well as being a perfect adjective. I love the exuberance of the name - Magnificent Frigate Bird - it sounds so much better than plain old Frigate Bird, which might then be mistaken (at least auditorily) for friggit bird - and that just wouldn't do at all!
They are unusual and ... well..."magnificent", and we haven't seen them before arriving here. Mostly black, up to 40" in length and with a wing span of 90", they are easily identifiable. Their wings are angular and, while their tails don't stream out like those of the white Tropic Birds, they are long enough to be distinctive. These birds soar overhead looking for fish, swooping down near the fishing boats and to snatch fish from the water. My Sibley's Guide mentions that they are also known to steal fish from other seabirds in aerial chases too, but we haven't seen that.
At Nurse Cay, we spotted American Oystercatchers standing on the rocks in the evening. These are also distinctive, and although we've seen them in Georgia and the Carolinas (and I'm sure I've seen Oystercatchers in Vancouver, BC) we didn't know they can be found here too. This pair was watching the water intently, their long, bright red beaks and pinkish coloured legs making them stand right out against the rocks.
Some of these islands are inhabited by wild goats, chickens, and possibly a horse or two, and we've seen the goats at a distance when anchored in Buenavista and Raccoon Cays. One fellow was mostly white with a chocolate brown head and neck. It was as if someone combined two different goats in one body! We know the guys from Little Farmer's Cay come down sometimes to hunt goats, and it seems like they aren't hard to find. We haven't discovered how they came to be here - descended from shipwrecked goats? Put here deliberately? As Jim wittily declared, the only thing we do know is that they didn't walk from island to island over the ice in winter!
We left Flamingo Cay on Sunday morning, bound for Buenavista, and had a fabulous rollicking sail down. We started with the main up and the yankee out, but as the wind built to 20 kn and the waves south of Man Of War were 6-8 feet, we pulled in the yankee and put out the stay sail. We were still doing 6.5 knots and were a little more stable than the heeled over 7 and 8 knots we were doing under the yankee. It was one of those beam winds that makes for good sailing for both northbound and southbound boats and we exchanged greetings with Pearl - also going hull speed as they headed north.
As we drew nearer to Nurse Cay, Jim and I decided that the lure of being the only boat in an anchorage was irresistible so we pulled in there, nice and close to the beach. Ashore on the little beach, we found some old foundations with remnants of shells among the mortar, a great many old dead conchs and lots of lizard tracks, but no shells or beans or trails through the underbrush. The swimming was good though, and we returned to Madcap well exercised.
After a candle lit cockpit lobster dinner (seasoned with peppers, garlic, lemon and butter and served with quinoa and salad) we turned out the solar light and enjoyed the moon and stars for a bit, but there was a lot of surge so it wasn't quite the still, starlit night we had envisioned!